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  • Writer's pictureJolene Psychology and Hypnosis Centre

In our everyday interactions, it's common to find ourselves in situations where we need to offer comfort to others. However, comforting someone effectively can be tricky, and sometimes our well-meaning attempts can have the opposite effect. In this article, I'd like to share some frequently used but ineffective ways of comforting others, and suggest more effective approaches.

  1. Avoid Dismissing Their Feelings Ineffective: "Don't be upset, it's not a big deal." Effective: Validate and empathize with their feelings. For instance: "It's understandable to feel upset in such a tough situation. Anyone would."

  2. Avoid Being Superficial Ineffective: "Just keep your chin up." Effective: Show genuine concern and willingness to listen. Try saying: "What's making you feel down? Can I help in any way?"

  3. Avoid Blaming or Acting Superior Ineffective: "I told you so, you should have listened." Effective: Offer understanding and empathy. Say something like: "It's hard to predict how things turn out. We all make choices that sometimes don't work out."

  4. Avoid Making It About Yourself Ineffective: "I've had it even worse." Effective: Focus on their experience. You might say: "You're going through a lot right now, and I'm here to support you."

  5. Avoid Being Preachy Ineffective: "You should learn from this." Effective: Provide empathy and support. Consider saying: "I get that you're hurting. Let's figure this out together."

  6. Avoid Jumping to Solutions Ineffective: "You should do this." Effective: Offer support and presence. For example: "Whatever decision you make, I'm behind you. I believe in your ability to handle this."

  7. Respect Privacy and Boundaries Ineffective: "If you're asking for my comfort, why not be honest?" Effective: Respect their need for privacy. You could say: "If you're not comfortable sharing, that's okay. I'm here for you regardless."


Effective comforting is rooted in kindness and empathy, focusing on the other person's feelings rather than imposing our own ideas or solutions. When comforting others, it's important to be fully present, offering our undivided attention and understanding. Remember, often the most powerful form of comfort is simply being there and listening.


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